Prominent Workers Comp Attorney to Challenge Gov.’s Appointment to Commission

Monday, May 8th 2017, 7:02 pm
By: News 9

Gov. Mary Fallin's appointment of Megan Tilly to the Workers Compensation Commission last week is running into some legal opposition.

News 9 has learned a prominent Oklahoma City workers compensation attorney plans to go to the state Supreme Court to try to block the appointment.

Attorney Bob Burke has been practicing workers compensation law in Oklahoma for 38 years. Burke is an acknowledged expert in the field, and said he will file a protest with the Supreme Court later this week, on the grounds that Tilly does not possess the requisite experience for the position.

The 2013 workers compensation reform law, which moved Oklahoma from a court system to an administrative system, overseen by a three-person Workers Compensation Commission, requires that each commissioner have at least three years of experience in the workers compensation field. 

"I have been practicing workers' compensation law for 38 years, know nearly every claims manager, claims adjuster, nurse case manager, and workers' compensation lawyer in the state," Burke stated, "and had never heard of Megan Tilly until her appointment last week."

Tilly is an assistant attorney general who's been chief of the AG's multicounty grand jury unit since 2013. According to a news release from January 2013 announcing her promotion to that position, she had also worked in a lesser role in the grand jury unit, "and as an assistant district attorney for Logan and Payne counties, prosecuting general felonies and drug cases."

Burke has filed Open Records requests with the Attorney General's office, seeking detailed information on her prior work experience. 

Burke said he is concerned with her lack of experience, but also with a family connection that, he believes, could bias her decisions on the commission. Tilly's father is Fred Morgan, a former legislator and current president of the State Chamber of Oklahoma.

The State Chamber and, according to Burke, Morgan himself, were principal architects of the 2013 reform law. Burke said he is not meaning to attack Tilly personally, but said, if she is allowed to sit on the commission, it will no longer be independent.

"I am concerned about the rights of injured workers, should Tilly be confirmed by the State Senate," Burke said. "It's just too close a relationship to have such an important position filled by the daughter of the man who has publicly stated that he wants to remove lawyers from the workers' compensation system, thus denying the ability of an injured worker to hire a lawyer to help with his or her claim."

In a statement for News 9, Fallin's general counsel, James Williamson, issued this response:

The governor believes Megan Tilly is highly qualified to serve on the Workers’ Compensation Commission. She has done great work assisting the workers’ compensation, insurance and Social Security fraud unit of the attorney general’s office. Her father’s position with The State Chamber was not even considered.